How I developed my home made bait

Old Jim's Swim Bait

It all started on a summer day on the north end of Toledo Bend. We were catching lots of fish on silver rattle traps with blue back, just as we had at Caddo Lake all spring. My partner was an eater, and he always wanted as many eating fish as we could get. Wasn’t hard to fish over grass beds on Caddo and have a limit of 20 fish by 10:00. Toledo Bend was the same, but it was starting to get very hot very quick in June and July and we were just not catching a lot of fish. We began to try other things like spinner baits, worms around trees, and even Carolina rigs. Tried lizards and frogs, also to no avail. I had a light browning spinning rod I used for Hybrids in the fall and put a green and white beetle spin on to try. Finally, caught a couple of small fish and then I hooked into a five and a half pound bass. It was quite a struggle with 8 pound line and ultra-light equipment, but he finally came to the boat.

It did not dawn on me until later that a little bait with lots of action would catch fish when nothing else did, and bigger fish at that. That started my development of my bait. I called it a spinner bait, but after thinking about it some, I decided it is more of a swim bait. I started by trying different things on the beetle spin, like 3 inch sassy shad that we used for catching hybrids in fall. My partner liked twin tailed grub as it seemed to have more action, but just did not seem to catch as many fish. Then I started using 3 inch single tailed grubs, and they seemed to be great. I started catching many more fish, but the beetle spin was just too fragile and bigger fish would bend the hook. So I began looking around tackle shops for stronger hooks and settled on salt water jig heads as they could be had in many colors and sizes. I kept looking for a better frame than the standard Beetle Spin and settled on a #3 spinner blade on a wire frame, not much different than a Beetle Spin, but easy to find in stores. I began putting a lure together, starting with a 3/16 ounce, salt water, jig head, on the wire frame and a 3 inch single tailed grub. I was living on Long Lake at the time, and I found the lake was full of big hungry bass. Over the next year, I discovered Long Lake fish liked 3/16 to 3/8 oz jig heads with a white 4 inch single curly tailed grub and Fireline smoke as the best combinations. Also, I found that although the salt water jig heads had a nice, strong hook it was almost always dull, and I have to sharpen them. I also found that a lot of other species of fish liked this combination. I’ve caught many crappie while bass fishing. Next discovery was that this was not a good lure to throw around wood, unlike a regular spinner bait the loose head turns as it goes over a branch and usually snags the branch. I have developed several variations to overcome this problem, but have not settled on one yet.

I have fished this combination in Canada for pike, on Bradenton River in Florida and many lakes in Louisiana and Texas. In my development, I discovered a second problem. Fish approaching 7 to 8 pounds could cause the snap to open. To overcome this, I started soldering the snap closed after attaching the jig head. Problem solved.

As I’ve said, many species of fish like the action of this bait. My biggest to date is a 15 lb spoon billed cat; I know it’s a plankton eater and I must of snagged it.

After much experimentation with different kinds and weights of line, I have found that there is a combination that gives a very pronounced and somewhat different action to this lure and seems to work best for me. I have found that a very small diameter line with a very fast tip rod will make this bait seem to vibrate. When reeling it in you can see the rod tip has a very fast vibration, and you can feel the single blade thump as it moves along. This action over a grass bed will bring bass up to hit it even in extremely hot or cold water. They just cannot seem to resist this action. I have been most successful with a St Croix 6 foot 8 inch medium light, XFT rod, or a Mojo Bass rod 6 foot 9 inch medium with XFT, while using 10 pound, smoke color, fire line. Other combinations of line, like a fluorocarbon, will not give the action that the Fireline does. I suppose it is the very small diameter, and zero stretch. You should not try to set the hook when using this bait the zero stretch line and sharp hook will get the fish hooked up. Seems to work best over or through grass or lily pads.

It seems to catch almost any fish. I have caught brim, Bass, crappie, catfish, gar, grinnell, jack fish, drum, stripers, hybrids, white bass, even a spoon billed catfish.

As I mentioned earlier, this bait is not good in wooded areas. It has a side to side wobble that spinner baits do not have because of jig head swinging on spinner wire loop. This side to side wobble allows the hook point to swing away from the bait making it less weedless than a standard spinnerbait. However, I think this is part of the action that makes it such a good strike attractor.

Old Jim's Swim Bait

Almost hate to write this, but I decided to share my experience, make one at your own risk, you will soon find it your go to bait in many situations. You’ll find it works best on the combinations I described. If yours does not vibrate the rod tip, you have something wrong in your combination. Revising how this bait works best. It has the best action on thin Fireline line; with an extra fast tip rod in a medium or medium-light action. I have tried a variety of tails, however, a 3 and 4 inch, white grub works best. Seems to be able to catch from a few oz to over 15 pounds, the solder helps hold it together under the heavy load of a bigger fish. It will catch fish when nothing else will in hot weather. It can be fished at many depths by controlling speed and weight of jig head. I have found that a 3/16 to 3/8 ounce size are the best weights; you can easily vary your depth with them.

Good Luck,

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